Many patients (or potential patients) ask me what the difference is between a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst. All of these are mental health professionals who help people who are struggling with problems such as depression, anxiety, relationship problems, work problems, trauma, etc.
A psychiatrist is someone with a medical degree, who chose to specialize in mental health problems, and who received training after medical school in working with people who are suffering from these problems. They can prescribe medications, and many of them (but not all) are trained to use psychotherapy as well. A psychologist is someone with a PhD or PsyD degree who treats people with mental health issues, as above. They can't prescribe medications. They use psychotherapy to help people find relief from their depression, anxiety, etc.
A psychotherapist is a more general word used to describe any clinician who uses talk therapy to help their patients.
A psychiatrist or psychologist who uses talk therapy is also a psychotherapist.
A psychoanalyst is a type of therapist who uses a form of intensive psychotherapy (called psychoanalysis) to treat their patients. They can be psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers. They may meet 4 or 5 times per week with their patients, and they help the patient become more aware of hidden parts of themselves that may be causing problems.
Joseph M. Jeral, M.D.
2112 F Street, N.W., Suite 502, Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: (202) 457-8899
Copyright © 2019 Joseph M. Jeral, M.D.